McGiver in a scene from Midnight Cowboy (1969)
|Born||John Irwin McGiver
November 5, 1913
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
|Died||September 9, 1975
West Fulton, New York, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
The Catholic University of America
|Spouse(s)||Ruth Schmigelsky (m. 1947; his death 1975)|
||United States Army|
|Unit||7th Armored Division|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
John Irwin McGiver (November 5, 1913 – September 9, 1975) was an American character actor who made more than a hundred appearances in television and motion pictures over a two-decade span from 1955 to 1975.
The owl-faced, portly character actor with his mid-Atlantic accent and precise diction, was often cast as pompous Englishmen and other stuffy, aristocratic and bureaucratic types. He was known for his performances in such films as Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961); The Manchurian Candidate (1962); and Who's Minding the Store? (1963). He appeared on many television shows and commercials during the 1960s and early 1970s, including the very first of a long running popular series of commercials for the American Express charge card ("Do you know me?").
He earned a B.A. in English from Fordham University in 1938 and master's degrees from Columbia University and Catholic University. He became an English teacher and worked as an actor and director in New York's Irish Repertory Theater. He interrupted those activities and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served as an officer in the U.S. Army's 7th Armored Division in Europe during World War II. Returning to civilian life, he continued to teach English and speech at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx and worked occasionally in off-Broadway plays until 1955, when he became a full-time actor.
In 1959, McGiver appeared in the episode "The Assassin" of NBC's espionage drama Five Fingers, starring David Hedison. In 1962, he appeared as Gramps in the episode "The Seventh Day of Creation" of the NBC medical drama about psychiatry, The Eleventh Hour, starring Wendell Corey and Jack Ging. He appeared in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes "Six People No Music" and "Fatal Figures", and the Twilight Zone episode "Sounds and Silences". In 1971 he guest-starred in Alias Smith and Jones (season 1, episode 8, 'A Fistful of Diamonds'). In 1966, he appeared in Man's Favorite Sport?, which starred Rock Hudson and Paula Prentiss. Between 1963 and 1964, McGiver appeared in five episodes of The Patty Duke Show as J.R. Castle, who was Martin Lane's boss at the fictional newspaper The Chronicle.
In the 1964–1965 television season, McGiver played the widower Walter Burnley, the head of the complaint department of a fictitious Los Angeles department store in the CBS sitcom Many Happy Returns. His costars included Elinor Donahue, Mark Goddard, Mickey Manners, and Elena Verdugo. He was also in an episode of Gilligan's Island in 1966, "The Man With a Net". He also made several guest appearances on ABC's hit fantasy sitcom Bewitched over the course of its eight seasons (1964-72).
McGiver was married to Ruth Schmigelsky from 1947 until his death; they had ten children: Boris, Brigit, Maria, Terry, Basil, Clare, Oliver, Ian, Clemens and Cornelia. Son Boris McGiver is an actor and one of the stars of television's House of Cards.
- The Man in the Raincoat (1957) - O'Brien
- Love in the Afternoon (1957, with Gary Cooper, Audrey Hepburn and Maurice Chevalier) - Monsieur X
- I Married a Woman (1958) - Girard - Sutton's Lawyer
- Once Upon a Horse... (1958) - Mr. Tharp
- The Gazebo (1959, with Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds) - Sam Thorpe
- Love in a Goldfish Bowl (1961) - Dr. Frawley
- Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961, with Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard) - Tiffany's Salesman
- Bachelor in Paradise (1961, with Bob Hope) - Austin Palfrey
- Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962, with James Stewart and Maureen O'Hara) - Martin Turner
- The Manchurian Candidate (1962, with Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Janet Leigh) - Senator Thomas Jordan
- Period of Adjustment (1962, with Jane Fonda and Jim Hutton) - Stewart P. McGill
- Who's Got the Action? (1962, with Dean Martin and Lana Turner) - Judge Fogel
- Something's Got to Give (1962; aborted Marilyn Monroe film) - The Judge
- My Six Loves (1963, with Debbie Reynolds) - Judge Harris
- Johnny Cool (1963, with Henry Silva and Elizabeth Montgomery) - Oscar B. 'Oby' Hinds
- Take Her, She's Mine (1963, with James Stewart and Sandra Dee) - Hector G. Ivor
- Who's Minding the Store? (1963, with Jerry Lewis) - Mr. John P. Tuttle
- Man's Favorite Sport? (1964, with Rock Hudson and Paula Prentiss) - William Cadwalader
- A Global Affair (1964, with Bob Hope) - Mr. Snifter
- Marriage on the Rocks (1965, with Frank Sinatra, Deborah Kerr and Dean Martin) - Shad Nathan
- Made in Paris (1966, Louis Jourdan) - Roger Barclay
- The Glass Bottom Boat (1966, with Doris Day and Rod Taylor) - Ralph Goodwin
- The Spirit Is Willing (1967, with Sid Caesar and Vera Miles) - Uncle George
- Fitzwilly (1967, with Dick Van Dyke) - Albert
- Midnight Cowboy (1969, with Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman) - Mr. O'Daniel
- Lawman (1971, with Burt Lancaster) - Sabbath Mayor Sam Bolden
- Arnold (1973, with Roddy McDowall) - Governor
- Mame (1974, with Lucille Ball) - Mr. Babcock
- The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975, with Don Knotts and Tim Conway) - Leonard Sharpe
McGiver was a regular performer on:
- McKeever & the Colonel, 1962–1963
- Many Happy Returns, 1964–1965 (lead role)
- Mr. Terrific, 1967
- The Jimmy Stewart Show, 1971–1972
McGiver also appeared in:
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“Fatal Figures”, "Six People, No Music")
- The Twilight Zone (two episodes: "The Bard", "Sounds and Silences")
- The Lucy Show (“Lucy is Kangaroo for a Day", 1963)
- The Patty Duke Show (5 episodes)
- The Rogues (1965)
- Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (episode "The X Factor")
- The Fugitive (episode "The End Game")
- The Dick Van Dyke Show
- The Beverly Hillbillies (“Granny Versus the Weather Bureau”)
- Gidget ("One More for the Road", 1966)
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ("The Birds and the Bees Affair", 1966)
- I Dream of Jeannie ("Jeannie Breaks the Bank", 1966)
- Gilligan's Island ("Man With a Net", 1966)
- Honey West ("Mr Brillig", 1966)
- The Wild Wild West ("The Night of the Turncoat," 1967)
- High Chaparral ("Ebenezer," 1968)
- Bewitched ("Mother-in-Law of the Year", 1971)
- Alias Smith and Jones ("A Fistful of Diamonds", 1971)
- Twas the Night Before Christmas (as voice of The Mayor)
- Ellery Queen ("The Adventure of Miss Aggie's Farewell Performance", 1975) - (final television appearance)
Broadway theatre roles included:
- Freeman, William M. (September 10, 1975). "John McGiver, Actor, 62, Dies. Did TV, Film Character Roles" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
- John McGiver on IMDb
- U.S. Census, January 1, 1920, State of New York, County of New York, enumeration district 681, p. 15A, family 319.
- "Multimedia Gallery: Regis Actors and Directors". Regis High School. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
- "War Provided Background For C.U. Play", The Washington Post, June 8, 1947, pg. L2.
- National Archives and Records Administration, U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
- Shanley, John P. (June 1, 1958). "John M'Giver–Teacher who Took a Chance" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
- "Other Deaths: John McGiver, Veteran Actor". Boca Raton News. September 10, 1975. pp. 9A.
- "Character Actor John McGiver Dies". The Telegraph. September 10, 1975. p. 2.